Perry & Haas Attorneys
Perry & Haas Cases
How We Work
Unsafe Vehicles
News and Links
Our Philosophy
The US Legal System

Contact Us

615 N. Upper Broadway
Suite 1415
P.O. Box 1500 (78403)
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
Phone: 361-880-7500
Fax: 361-887-9507

OUR CASES:   Aircraft & Vehicle Safety  |  Consumer Products  |  Worker & Workplace Safety  |  Healthcare Safety  |  Public Awareness


Our Cases - Aircraft and Automobile
<   Back to Cases   

Durrill v. Ford Motor Company

Favorable Verdict Followed By Confidential Settlement

Ford MustangA rear end collision fire case in which a 1974 Ford Mustang II vehicle exploded into flames. The two occupants of the vehicle, Devary Durrill and Bonnie Watkins, died of burns.

The collision occurred in October, 1978, a few months following the famous Pinto recall. The Mustang II was built from the same vehicle platform as the Pinto and contained the same defects - the fuel tank was mounted rear of the axle; in rear impacts, the fuel tank would be driven forward into the axle and be punctured by sharp objects on the rear axle and suspension, resulting in loss of fuel and fire. Although many of the part of the vehicle were the same as the Pinto, including the rear axle and suspension and portions of the fuel tank, the Mustang II was not included in the Pinto recall. Her father owned two Pintos in his business which he had fixed under the recall and then sold; he had given the Mustang II to Devary for her birthday; the dealership assured him it was not part of the recall as and was safe.

Bonnie Watkins died by fire at the scene. Police officers and bystanders described her efforts to extricate herself from the burning vehicle, and described seeing her falter and die.

Devary Durrill was pulled from the flaming car by a bystander who described her as being burned so badly that he could not tell whether she was male or female, black or white. Devery lived for 7 days in excruciating pain. She was burned virtually all over. Her parents were able to touch her only on the top of her head. While in the burn unit, she received highly painful burn debridement treatment, resulting in screaming which her parents and others could hear in the burn unit waiting room. The pain medication she could receive was limited due to its effects on other parts of her system. At the time of the injury, she was living at home.


The intermediate court of appeals affirmed by liability verdict but further remitted the punitive damages verdict and remitted a portion of the actual damages. The Supreme Court of Texas granted writ of error (consenting to hear the case).

After the Supreme Court granted writ of error, the case settled for a confidential amount; the punitive damages portion of the settlement was recovered by the Devery Durrill Foundation, a charitable foundation created by the surviving parents.

Durrill v. Ford Motor Company; Nueces County, Texas; 1983 Ford Motor Company v. Durrill 714 SW2d 329 (Tex.Civ.App Ð Corpus Christi, 1986)

Perry and Haas small color logo


Perry & Haas does not offer any guarantee of case results.
Past success in litigation does not guarantee success in any new or future lawsuit.
Our web site describes some of the cases that the attorneys of Perry & Haas have worked on in the past.

Our description of those cases is summary in nature.

You should be aware that the results obtained in each of the cases we have worked on was dependent on the particular facts of each case. The results of other cases will differ based on the different facts involved.